Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Carrie Fisher. R.I.P.

Man, 2016 turned out pretty shitty, huh? Politically, we're headed into very dark times, of course. But it also seems like we've lost an unusual number of artists and celebrities this year. Prince, David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, George Michael, Florence Henderson, Garry Shandling, Elie Wiesel, Gene Wilder, Edward Albee, cartoonist Darwyn Cooke, and many, many others.

Carrie Fisher's death really stings, because I'm a big Star Wars fan, and her death was so sudden and unexpected. Of course, I had a crush on her as a boy. Princess Leia was awesome not just because she was beautiful, but because she was strong and independent and sassy and acerbic. Star Wars has been rightly criticized for its paucity of female characters, but the one it did have was pretty kick-ass.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Drawings from New Hampshire and Maine

I was recently in Kittery, Maine and Portsmouth, NY with the the Bang Group. Here's some drawings from that trip

Across from our hotel in Portsmouth, this freighter was docked. The Elvira Bulker is a 19,812 ton freighter operated by the J. Lauritzen corporation, flying under the flag of Denmark. For the three days I was there, it was continually unloading a gigantic mountain of gravel or sand or crushed stone or something like that.

Utility pole outside the venue, in Kittery. I always like the mess of cables around these poles.

Antique phonograph, backstage at the venue. Actually, I'm sure it was not an antique, just a reproduction.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Pavilion

The Pavilion movie theater at Bartel-Pritchard Square in Park Slope.

The Pavilion closed last month, and is going to be re-opened under the management of Nitehawk Cinemas of Williamsburg, a dinner-movie theater known for indie films and theme nights. Most of the time, the closing of long-standing local businesses is lamented by locals, but the Pavilion was not beloved. In fact, it had been called the worst theater ever. Among its problems, infestation of bed bugs and rats, no heat in winter and no A/C in summer, an infamous incident where the movie staff called the cops on a diabetic patron who'd brought his own fruit to snack on, very small screens (In the past, three theaters had been divided into nine), and general dirtiness and run-down-ness.

I only went here a few times, and while I never experienced problems as bad as these, it still was not a good theater. The tickets were cheap, relatively, but . . . Perhaps the best indicator of the quality of the theater is how the movie "Middle School" is misspelled on the marquee. It's misspelled on all three sides of that marquee!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Collegiate Church Lamppost

Lamp on the facade of the Middle Collegiate Church on 2nd Ave. in the East Village. The church dates to 1892


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Martha's Vineyard in Winter

Last weekend, I spent a few days on Martha's Vineyard doing the lighting for a dance performance by The Bang Group. I had a little bit of time for some sketching.

Roadside in the village of Chilmark.

Trees on the property of The Yard, the dance residence where we stayed.

View of the ferry bow on the return.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sunday, November 27, 2016

1929 Model A Ford

A 1929 Model A Ford, parked outside an autobody shop on Coney Island Ave.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Rise, Columbia!

My last post mentioned a drawing I'd been working on to celebrate the election of the first female president. That drawing was going to be of Columbia, triumphant and jubilant, shoving old Uncle Sam aside.

Who is Columbia? An old symbol of America, similar to Uncle Sam, but depicted as a female goddess figure. She originated shortly after the founding of the nation, and was the common personification of the United States through the early 20th Century. You'd see her in editorial cartoons, on government buildings, in wartime propaganda posters, as the namesake of the capital, towns and rivers, and companies like Columbia Records. She was pretty ubiquitous until around 1920, when it became more common to see the Uncle Sam icon. This happened to be the same time that the Suffragist Movement finally secured voting rights for women in the U.S. What a coincidence!

Anyway . . . Obviously, I had to abandon that drawing.

This past week, many of my friends described going through the five stages of grief. But I really only went through two: denial, then anger.

I spent days stewing in anger. Then I was reminded of a philosophy class I took in college, called 'Anger.' Prof. Giles Milhaven had the reputation of being one of the most rigorous teachers on campus, so I put myself to the test. Milhaven's central thesis was this: That anger is good. That it is, in fact, a form of love. Specifically, self-love. Because anger is a reaction to 'an insult to one's excellence,' as I recall him phrasing it. How that anger is expressed can be - often is - wrong and damaging. But having the feeling itself is healthy, because it means that you value yourself enough to object to an attack on you.

And that's how I take this election's result, as an attack on me. And on my wife, my children, my friends. The emerging narrative is now that this election had nothing - nothing - to do with white cultural resentment, even as Trump appoints a White Supremacist with a capital W and S to his staff, and the actual KKK holds a victory march. And even as I try to empathize with those people who voted for Donald J Trump, even as I acknowledge that their own anger is in some way valid, I reject the notion that their expression of that anger in putting forth this racist, xenophobic, retrograde demagogue is anything other than that - a refutation of people like me and mine.

As my funk of denial lead to the heat of anger, that anger spurred a desire in me to get politically involved in some meaningful way going forward. Not just signing petitions and 'liking' Facebook posts, but something substantive. I have no idea what form that's going to take; I'm not a natural activist type. So I'm still trying to figure that one out. Until then, there this: Columbia v.2. Bruised and bloody. But rising up. Because she can take a punch, motherfuckers.

You can read more about Columbia here and here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Points of Light In The Dark

So I was working up this great drawing that I was going to post today to celebrate the election of our first woman president. Unfortunately, that sketch will remain unfinished. Instead, I'm going to post these other drawings I did yesterday, of Max and Zoe, because when I woke up this morning, they were the two points of light I saw in this dark, dark day.

I hope the Trump Presidency is short-lived (I'd bet money on impeachment before the first term is done), and that he doesn't achieve too much damage in that time, and that the pendulum swings back, hard and strong, towards the sort of world I want for these two.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Inktober Week 5

The last few days of Inktober. I only missed one day out of the month!

This was a fun exercise, though not as life-changing as some claim it to be. I don't know that I learned that much new, though I maybe re-learned some old lessons. I think the best thing for me was that I was drawing very quickly, instead of my usual slow, laborious process. And for a lot of these, I started directly in pen, without pencil layout, so I had to commit to the line immediately, for better or for worse. Like that drawing above of my daughter, it was for worse. She's a lot cuter than that!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Inktober Week 4

Inktober Week 4.

I missed one day. That first drawing of The Punisher is in memoriam of Steve Dillon, a terrific comic book artist who passed away that day.

Friday, October 14, 2016

DUMBO Water Tower

Water tower in DUMBO. I like water towers, and kept wanting to draw them, but you're always viewing them from far below. I kept seeing this one, close to and on level with the Manhattan Bridge, from the subway. So I walked up the north path of the bridge, which is a narrow bike lane where I wasn't supposed to be. But it put me right in front of the structure.

Water towers are one of the signature traits of the New York skyline. They're everywhere, and though they look like relics, they're actually in use. In the 1880s, New York City mandated that buildings taller than six stories be equipped with a water tank. The tanks use gravity to supply water pressure to the floors below, and they are often constructed of wood rather than steel due to cost, superior insulation, and less maintenance.

There are two remaining companies that construct all of NYC's water towers, Rosenwach Tank Company and Isseks Brothers, both founded in the 18902 and still family owned. This one was built by Rosenwach; you can tell by the rosette on top that is shaped like a double-R.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

1st and 1st

For years and years now, the intersection around First Ave. and First St./Houston St. has been torn up with construction. It's pretty bad, because it's the intersection of two major streets, a busy subway stop dumping pedestrians onto the street, and a bike lane. So I was pleasantly surprised at the beginning of the summer to see that construction was finally complete! The roads freshly paved, the bulldozers gone, the sidewalks open, the bike lane free and clear.

So of course, a week later, they were digging it all up again. The exact same spot!

This one was actually done over two or three days. Everytime I went to draw it, they would come and move it.

Fire hydrants to be installed. I'd never thought about how far underground a fire hydrant extends.

A steam roller. Why are they still called steam rollers? They don't run on steam anymore, do they?

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Inktober Week 1

Inktober is this drawing challenge created by a guy named Jake Parker. The exercise is to do one ink drawing per day for the month of October. I've heard of it before, but always forgot about it until the month was well under way, but this year I'm doing it. This is the first week's worth.

I don't have a strategy for them, except to not count any of the urban sketchbook stuff that I might do over the month, because that's the sort of thing I do all the time. Instead, I'll try to do something different than usual; drawing directly in pen without a preliminary pencil sketch, drawing quickly, using a brush, etc.